I arose before dawn to see the sun rise over the Himalayas. I’ve always wanted to write that. It sounds like a diary entry from some brave adventurer. And so it is. Life is one big mountainous adventure after all.
Having said that, those mountains are quite big and you can see them from some distance away without the need for much walking and climbing.
Having said that, we did climb up the tall tower of our hotel, ascending at least 4 or 5 stories and the air was a little thin up there. We caught glimpses of our prey through successive windows. The final ascent to the peak was up a wooden ladder out onto the roof. It was a small summit and the Japanese had got there before us with their tripods and wide-angled lenses. We expected to see a Japanese flag. But we sneaked a spot at the front against a rail and one of them was kind enough to take our photograph.
It is impossible to describe the size and beauty of the wonderful landscape painting which was spread out before us. It filled every corner of our vision and consciousness. A picture which could only be painted and appreciated in person. And impossible to photograph, oh you Japanese.
Below us lay rolling hills and valleys in shadowy greens and browns, as yet unlit by the universal torch. Above us only pastel light-blue sky. Painted between these at a ridiculously high height, the feint white grandiose Himalayan mountains, emerging through the morning light. Their edges drawn in grey pencil, standing like they always have – shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm. Immovable, magnificent and ancient, as old as time. To live under such splendour must do something to a people. And it was doing something to me.
It was cold and the air was fresh. I was grateful for my very woolly Nepalese cardigan purchased the previous day. We were joined by a French family with a girl fresh out of bed in her pink pyjamas. Her legs must have been cold. There was a quiet, calm expectancy as the light brightened above the Himalayas.
Suddenly but quietly, a deep sensual ocre light had appeared between two of the great peaks. As if it had ridden with the wind through the mountains to emerge and declare victory over the forces of night and darkness. It started as a crescent, shaped by the mountains. Then it became a brilliant orange coin – a dash of oil paint gloriously dominating the the pale watercolour canvas. Then, growing and rising almost perceptibly; confident and extrovert.
We clicked our cameras and struggled for focus. But after a while we just stopped and drank in this spectacular confluence of earth and sun in all of their morning glory. It was quite a matinee.
All too soon the orange sun left her mountainous bed and rose into the sky, changing into her yellow dress and setting about her daily work of lighting the world and warming the earth. Another sunrise, another day, another miracle.